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Benefits of large-scale energy storage

A shock absorber for the grid to enhance efficiency, reliability, and security

In their July 16th piece on solar energy technology in The New York Times, Andrew Revkin and Matthew Wald wrote that, "With more research, the solar thermal method might allow for storing energy. Currently, all solar power is hampered by a lack of storage capability." They are certainly right. In fact, a lack of storage capacity hampers a lot of things. While there's been a lot of talk about coupling energy storage to solar (and wind) power, there are additional reasons for addressing our lack of storage capability. In fact, storage technologies can act as a "shock absorber" for the …

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House offset hearing on Wed.

This hearing is the main reason I haven't had time to post more "rules" -- I know, I know ... you have been waiting for them as anxiously as for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming hearing on voluntary carbon offsets tomorrow will be webcast at globalwarming.house.gov -- and I have been reliably informed that if there's any problem with that website, the direct link to the hearing room feed is here. You don't get that kind of information anywhere else on the web! And here's a Greenwire (subs. req'd) …

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Green computing: Hope or hype?

Hard to say, but Zonbu has clearly done its homework

A lot of the deepest environmental thinking is that we have to move away from the idea of purchasing consumer products and instead keep "ownership" with the maker, who is responsible for minimizing the environmental footprint of the product and for dealing with it when the user is ready to move to another one. In other words, we should pay for the services we want (computing, hot water, power, cool air, comfortable office floors, etc.) rather than the devices used to provide those services (PCs, tankless heaters, electricity, air conditioners, office carpets); that way, we're not invested in less-efficient devices. …

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An interview with Tom Kiernan of the National Parks Conservation Association

A moment of reflection at Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. Photo: Richard and Robin via flickr Every year, millions of Americans pack up their families and head out to visit one of America's national parks. My family was no different: I vividly recall the patchwork of reds, oranges, and yellows blanketing the Appalachian mountains as autumn made its big entrance one year. Another time, I remember being transfixed by a herd of Yellowstone bison -- burly, ancient-looking creatures -- crossing the paved road we were traversing in our large, modern minivan. Maybe for you, the Statue of …

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First grants from $100 million Duke Foundation Climate Initiative announced

The winners? ED, NRDC, The Pew Center for Climate Change, and other familiar faces

The first round of grants (PDF) from the $100 million climate fund established last year by the Doris Duke Foundation were announced last week. Funding priorities and grant recipients were identified in an exhaustive 18-month process of extensive literature reviews and interviews with more than 75 distinguished scientists, economists, environmental leaders, investors, energy industry representatives, and public policy experts. The result? A total of $3.6 million will be distributed to five environmental organizations -- ED and NRDC ($500K), Pew Center on Global Climate Change ($395K), World Resources Institute ($750K), and Resources for the Future ($750K) -- and two universities -- …

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Replacing Oil With, Uh, More Oil

National Petroleum Council pictures life after conventional crude There's a new voice in the crowd shrieking about waning oil supplies: the National Petroleum Council. OK, they're not actually shrieking. But in a draft report released this week, the group -- headed by former Exxon CEO Lee Raymond -- confirms that conventional crude oil supplies won't keep up with global demand in the next quarter century. Which is tantamount to shrieking, for an industry that has long maintained the opposite. The report, "Facing the Hard Truths About Energy," will be presented to U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman later this week. It …

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A Barrel of Gaffes

Earthquake causes nuclear headaches in Japan A strong earthquake hit northwestern Japan yesterday morning, and aftershocks continued into the night. The 6.8-magnitude quake killed at least nine people, injured more than 900 others, and flattened houses and highways. It also led to a fire, leak, and waste spills at a powerful nuclear plant. The Kashiwazaki Kariwa facility, which produces the most electricity of any nuclear plant in the world, shut down during the event, but not before a transformer caught on fire and a reactor ruptured, sending about 315 gallons of radioactive water into the sea. The trembling also toppled …

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Interview with green tax swap guy

Very interesting

Here's an interview with Gilbert Metcalf, a Tufts University economics professor who's been circulating a carbon tax proposal (PDF) that's revenue neutral -- it uses the carbon tax revenue to reduce other taxes. It's called the "Green Tax Swap." Good stuff. Here's one good bit : SM: Rep. John Dingell said he plans to propose a carbon tax, knowing Congress and voters won't go for it. Why would your approach be different? GM: Dingell's raising the old canard that Americans won't stand for a new energy tax. What the debate over the [Bill] Clinton BTU tax taught us was that …

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Storm World: Understanding hurricanes today

New book on hurricanes and global warming

On his site, science writer Chris Mooney recently posted a fascinating pair of graphs, courtesy of collaborator Matt Nisbet, which chart public interest in global warming. As the years march by, the charts show what happens when scientific reports are released, when politics intervene -- and when hurricanes strike, as measured by coverage at the Washington Post and the New York Times. What the graphs show is that in these thoughtful newspapers, political and scientific developments can spur stories, but when hurricanes strike, global warming coverage -- and, presumably public interest -- soars. This is why Mooney's new book, Storm …

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Why can't Detroit take the same approach?

Boeing’s new Dreamliner plane boasts increased fuel efficiency

A few years ago, Boeing was struggling. Sales were slipping, financial forecasts grim. Meanwhile Airbus, a foreign competitor, passed the former champ in total sales. Now the tables are turned. There are several reasons for the stellar advance sales of Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner, but I can't help but point out one: After years of research into lightweight carbon-fiber, which now replaces heavier aluminum for the jet's fuselage and wings, the Dreamliner can sail with an estimated 20-30 percent less fuel per passenger. What's the company's reasoning behind increasing fuel efficiency? It's better for business, of course.